24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: John Malkovich

Catherine Keener and John Malkovich, together again?

January 31, 2011 |  7:42 pm

EXCLUSIVE: Film fans eager to see "My Idiot Brother," Jesse Peretz's Sundance hit starring Paul Rudd that will be in theaters later this year, could soon get another dose of seriocomedy from the filmmaker.

Peretz is making headway on a new family drama called "What's This S%^@ Called Love?" Peretz, who wrote the script and has been talking to financiers, said that Catherine Keener and John Malkovich are attached to star in the movie -- the first time, if financing and scheduling work out, that the actors would appear on-screen together since "Being John Malkovich," the 1999 surrealist hit that turbocharged both their careers. (Representatives for the actors could not immediately be reached for comment.)

The new movie, which is being produced by Tim Perell ("Last Chance Harvey," "The Rebound") is set in Cambridge, Mass., during the 1980s, a place and period in which Peretz, the son of well-known journalist Marty Peretz, came of age.

It centers on a teenage boy who's contemplating coming out. But in a twist, his ultra-progressive family actually wants to celebrate the boy's newfound sexuality, while all the boy wants is to be left alone. (Keener and Malkovich would play the parents; Keener has played the open-minded parent of precocious children before, perhaps most famously in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin.")

"My Idiot Brother," a story of a dimwitted man and his doting sisters, became a breakout at Sundance, snapped up by The Weinstein Co. for more than $6 million. Peretz doesn't make movies very often -- it had been five years since his previous effort, the Amanda Peet-Jason Bateman dramatic comedy "The Ex," came out.

When asked if "What's This S%^@ Called Love?" was a little like the coming-of-age story in "The Squid and the Whale," Noah Baumbach's paragon of upper-middle-class family dysfunction, Peretz didn't disagree. "It's kind of like that," he said. "But maybe a little more positive."

-- Steven Zeitchik


 Photo: Catherine Keener and John Malkovich in "Being John Malkovich." Credit: USA Films

Meeting John Malkovich, always a dangerous liaison

October 18, 2010 |  8:00 am


John Malkovich leans back in a wicker chair in the garden restaurant of the Chateau Marmont and, after a long drag on a cigarette says, “I guess I'm not a very contemplative person.”

Coming from many actors, the statement might seem credible. From Malkovich, whose every utterance is both intensely introspective and drolly absurd, it's an Escher-like impossibility, a joke that folds in on itself.

Malkovich seems as intent on upending expectations as he has at any point in his 25-year film career. After parts in auteur movies from the likes of Clint Eastwood (“Changeling”) and the Coen Bros. (“Burn After Reading”) and a role in a commercial failure this summer (“Jonah Hex”), the actor is off to work on two operas. But not before a stopover in Los Angeles to promote, with his usual mix of the thoughtful and the deadpan, “Red,” one of the most populist films he's done since playing the Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom in “Con Air” 13 years ago.

In his new film, a violent, comic book-derived action comedy that grossed a solid $22.5 million over the weekend, Malkovich inhabits the role of a trigger-happy paranoid. “Like most actors, I like to squeeze off a few rounds whenever possible,” he says, before adding, in his trademark overly enunciated articulation, “Not in life, hopefully. And as long as everything is safe and the armor is competent.”

In recent months, Malkovich has been feeling his commercial oats. He currently also can be seen in “Secretariat,” Disney's feel-good family film about the iconic horse. Six weeks away from his 57th birthday, the actor has a surprisingly youthful face, though the rigid Shakespearean bearing we've seen in many of his screen roles remains present as ever.

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